Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week in Review

62 Miles
1 Track Workout
13 mile long run with 2 miles @ 555 pace
0 Doubles
0 Days Off

This is my second week in Durham and I'm beginning to see more of the DRM running scene.  Billy and I did the majority of our runs together this week and I know that he'll have a strong impact on my performances this fall.  I really appreciate his company.

This also marked the first week where my shoulder and neck finally were pain free so I was able to run over 60 miles this week.  I feel pretty good about where things are going, even though I have absolutely no plan for the fall yet.  I know the next three weeks but after that, it's all a gray area.

At this point, I'm looking at either the Philly RNR Half, the USA 5k Champs, or the Chicago marathon.  I need to email those folks, but we shall see.  I would like to do NYC marathon with Laurie, but I have an MBA residency in China from October 16-27 or something like that so it wouldn't fit well with the date.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Duke Track Workout

9-12 total with track workout: 1200, 3x400, 3x300, 3x200

1200m @5k pace (shoot for a few seconds faster than 4:00)
4:00 rest (can jog or do whatever you need to cool off / stay loose, etc..
3 x 400 @ 79-80 with 200m jog. Take 400m after the 3rd 400
3 x 300 @ 57 or faster with 100m jog between and 400m jog after the 3rd 300
3 x 200 @ 37 or faster with 200m jog.

3.2 mile warmup at Duke Sally Meyerhoff Trail with Billy
1200m in 3:55 via 81, 77, 77  (3:28 600m jog)
77 (67 200m jog)
77 (64 jog)
77 (2:45 400m jog)
55 (32 100m jog)
56 (32 jog)
56 (2:34 400m jog)
35 (59 200m jog)
36 (57)
2.5 mile cool down for almost 10 miles.

At 6AM, I met my new best friend Billy Askey at the gravel lot near the Duke Track and Al Beuhler trail.  I didn't think I'd have anyone for this workout and he came out of the woodwork to join me.  I was in luck!  

Today was a stark contrast to last week, where I felt tired and stiff and ultimately had to call the workout short due to a jacked up shoulder.  While the shoulder isn't 100% quite yet, it's at that point where it's not as debilitating.   With the clouds looming over and the muggy air smothering our lungs, we began the descent down the stairs into the Duke stadium, ready to hit the start line.

At the start line, I doubted whether I'd be able to hit the times that Terry had prescribed. It's funny how quickly things can change.  After 400m, I knew that the workout was going to go well and that I would hit times faster than that.  Sure enough we did.  I took charge on leading the pace and Billy set in directly behind me on my right shoulder.  We made circles around the track in perfect cadence and finished feeling satisfied with our effort. 

I also know that Billy and I will likely get in a lot of miles over the next several weeks...up until he has his first baby!  So happy to have found someone to do some workouts with.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week in Review

39 Miles
5 Runs
2 Days Off
1 Workout
1 Jacked up Shoulder / Neck

I'm an official resident of Durham.  The US Postal Service sent my official "change of address" correspondence to my new house, situated perfectly in the middle of Hope Valley Country Club.  So nothing was about to stop me from jumping right into the Triangle Running scene.  I created a Facebook group for us to post impromptu runs and networked.

I started the week off with a run with Kyle Feldman, a mutual friend of Liz and Meagan's.  Then I ran again with Billy Askey on Tuesday.  I ended my social running streak on Wednesday, when I decided to take my parents to Duke for a run while I knocked out some 200s on the Duke track.  Everything went as planned (running 36-40 with 200m jog rest) until the 12th interval, when a nagging pain that I had been easily ignoring at night turned into a full blow strain (or something) and I had to stop.  I wish that I could say that I had to stop due to a running related injury, but, no, it wasn't.  I had to stop, almost reduced to tears the pain was so bad (which is rare for me as my husband has only seen me cry three times in the last seven years).  I asked my dad to massage it for me, hoping that I could at least finish out another set of four.  But after attempting a stride, I knew that getting a cool down in would be futile.
The rest of week was spent trying to get my shoulder to calm down while enjoying the beautiful weather in Hendersonville with my family.  We got in several great hikes and ate lots of fabulous food.  In the end, my shoulder pain appeared to be getting better before regressing again on Saturday night.  I was able to get a massage from Joel Tull on the way back from Asheville, so that seemed to help a good amount but I know it won't be enough.  I'll try to get in with a PT or  chiro tomorrow, but where's Dr. Greenapple when I need him? The hardest part about moving to a new town is not knowing your medical practitioners well enough to get in quick.  I hope this goes away in the next couple of days so that I get some good speed work in before Beat the Heat 5k.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

(Farewell) Week in Review

44 Miles
6 Runs
1 Day Off
6 Farewells

This week was difficult on many levels.  Instead of taking some time off to recover from Grandma's Half Marathon, I decided to run every morning from the Dowd YMCA.  This ensured I had a chance to say goodbye to everyone that has helped me achieve my goals over the last six years.  At first it was a chore as I crawled out of bed each morning very early and I questioned why I wasn't sleeping in like a normal person after  a big PR.  But after I set out the door each morning and was greeted by multiple friends giving me a high five, I knew exactly why I had listened to my alarm clock.  All my Charlotte friends are freaking awesome and it took months, if not years, to build these relationships.  So every morning I ran and every morning I knew that Danielle and Billy would be there, and even Michelle most days.  Others joined as they could and I enjoyed my easy recovery runs with these folks.  However, as the week drew closer to my moving day (Friday), I began to wish it was just over.  I felt like I was at this weird transition point where I was no longer a part of Charlotte but I also wasn't a part of Durham yet.  I was ready to say goodbye to my friends here so that I could begin building relationships with those folks in Durham.

And so with that, I watched All My Sons Moving pack up my entire house into a van and unpack it all again in Durham.  Within just 8 hours, I was no longer a part of Charlotte.  The focus for this week wasn't about running, it was about getting in those last final runs with friends before saying farewell.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2014 Grandma's Half Marathon Recap

Goal #1: PR 1:17:45 5:52 pace = 1:17:01
Goal #2: 1:16:xx 5:50 pace = 1:16:28
Goal #3: 1:15:xx 5:47 pace = 1:15:48 (5:44 pace = 1:15:10)

All 3 Goals
1:14:249th place female, $400

Some stats:
5 minutes and 56 seconds faster than last year's race (28s faster per mile)
3 minutes and 21 seconds faster than my previous PR (16s faster per mile)
Every 5k in 17:34-17:38

Important Splits:  5k @ 17:34, 10k @ 35:09, 10 miles @ 56:46 (new PR by almost 2 minutes)

Mile by mile splits by race markers:
5:36 (16:59) and 5k in 17:35 ish
5:46 (22:45)
5:47 (28:32)
5:29 (34:02) 10k in 35:10 ish
5:40 (39:43)
5:28 (45:22)
11:24 (56:46) with Lemon Drop Hill
5:39 (1:02:25)
5:39 (1:08:05)
6:19 (1:14:24)  last 5k in 17:38

A perfect race rarely happens. They are few and far between, kind of like those important life moments you're "supposed" to cross off your list in the right order: go to college, marry someone special, have a kid. Prior to today, I truly only had experienced a perfect race once: at the 2010 Twin Cities Marathon. Under the tutelage of Coach Mark Hadley, I negative split and ran the fastest miles in the final 10k to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon in my debut race. 

Four years later, I am a different runner and, honestly, I am a different person.  I'm married...I've got a different coach Terry Shea.  In terms of running, I've been through a lot: mostly a lot of great moments, interspersed with very few bad moments that have greatly shaped who I am today and the path I'm about to embark on. I'm more serious, a bit tougher, and I know how to dream bigger, but more realistically. 

I'm about to move to a new city for my husband.  I'm about to begin an incredibly challenging executive MBA program while continuing working full time for Bank of America, albeit without my co workers just a cubicle away. I am about to say goodbye to all of my friends and co workers who have been there for me countless times.  

I'm about to change everything I've known for the past six years and it's flipping scary. 

But it's also very good. Change is good. A new start is good. I'm not saying goodbye to my friends, I'm just saying see you soon.  Eventually I'll find a community in Durham and I'll laugh at how big of a deal I thought this was. I will be just fine and that's what I am focusing on over these next few transition weeks and months. 

I keep telling myself all these things, but I'm still dreading Sunday, June 29th because it means it has happened...that my new life chapter has begun but the pages haven't been written yet.  And yet that unknown is exactly what keeps life interesting.  

Similarly, before the Grandmas Half Marathon this weekend, the chapter hadn't been written yet. I had a vague idea of what could likely happen, but I didn't know for sure. 

I never do.  

There are so many uncontrollables in races of this distance. You could have bathroom issues.  There could be a headwind, intense heat or torrential downpours.  You could get injured.  Or, you could just have a really bad day for no real good reason. 

Yet you can't focus on the things you can't control. Just like I can't change the fact that I am moving to Durham, I can control my outlook on what's to come and focus on the positive. And so I did the same for this race. I focused on what I could control: my attitude. 

I knew I had put in the work necessary to achieve a nice PR. I knew I was physically and mentally prepared to run 1:15. But I didn't know that I could run 1:14. Frankly, I thought running low-1:15  would be best case scenario and most realistic. I don't even know if Coach T-Bone knew!  Today, I surprised myself. 

And it's fan-freaking-tastic to surprise yourself!

Granted, things didn't go exactly smoothly leading up to the race. Southwest lost Michelle's luggage and so on Friday we embarked on a grand tour to go to (1) Target for clothes, (2) Gear Running for Newton shoes and (3) Lululemon for a race outfit. It literally was going to be a tour of the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area. Selfishly,  I was probably more stressed than Michelle because I was anxious to get on the road to Duluth because I'm an anal-retentive selfish friend. Miraculously, Michelle got a call from Southwest right before we checked out at Target...the first leg of our grand tour. I let out an internal sigh of relief. Problem solved and everyone happy, (mainly me because Michelle and Eric didn't give a crap about our arrival time to Duluth) we hopped in the car, sped to baggage claim and retrieved Michelle's coveted luggage. 

When we arrived in Duluth, it was 40 degrees...a whole 50 degrees cooler than it had been in Charlotte.  A shock to my system, I was glad packed my jeans last minute.  As uncomfortable as the temperature was to casually walk around in, it was perfect racing weather.    

Things got a little hectic the morning of the race.  A throbbing headache was threatening to tear away all motivation as I stepped off the shuttle that dropped us off just a mere 30 minutes before the start.  I was a little nervous and anxious as I walked through a sea of 5,000 runners to make it to the elite area, but I kept my emotions in check and reminded myself about how prepared I was.  I also remembered what Meagan had told me about her breakthrough performance at ATM - how the quick pace just felt right and wasn't even hard.  I prepared myself for that feeling and it was my inspiration for the day. After a short warmup with Alex Cadicamo, I finally stepped up to the start line feeling mentally prepared to kill it. 

Five rows back from the start line, the bull horn went off and my legs began moving at what felt like a pedestrian pace.  I positioned myself behind a group of about four women and forced myself not to look at my Garmin for pace quite yet. After about 1000 meters, I finally decided to look and was surprised to find 5:34 pace because it felt that easy and natural.  That was the story for the next 11.5 miles.  I wasn't even breathing hard and was entirely relaxed.  I tried to count the number of women in front of me and lost count after 15, so I decided to forget about place for the moment.

Up until mile five, I was either leading our small pack of women or tucking in behind some helpful guys that had the same goal as me.  There was one minor hitch in my race plan, when I got a bad ab cramp in the middle of my stomach. It wasn't a side stitch.  Rather it felt like the exact same cramp I got just 10 days ago in a workout.  A guy sped past me as I tried to ignore the pain and so I tucked in behind him so I wouldn't falter.  This strategy worked and by the 10k mark, the feeling passed.  After I hit the halfway point, I started  passing women.  Four girls down and I thought maybe I had a chance of being in the top ten, but I still didn't know for sure. 

At mile 9, Lemon Drop Hill came and went as if it wasn't really there.  I didn't feel like I had slowed much and I passed another girl here which gave me some extra speed.  My body still wasn't going into survival mode and my legs were still carrying my body downhill as if they had a mind of their own.  The climax of the race - that moment when I knew I was going to run really, really fast for me - was when I finally looked at the cumulative time on my Timex watch at the 10 miler marker.  

It said 56:46.  

I couldn't help but let a huge smile spread across my entire face.  At the same time, a tingling sensation passed through my entire body because it was in that moment that I knew.  I knew that I was going to achieve a big goal that had eluded me for the past two years.  At the same moment, a spectator spotted me and informed me that I was in 9th place.  I told myself: You've so got this.  

I kept expecting the slow, painful death march to the finish to come, but it never really did.  The worst I felt was in the last mile but not because my body was dying, but more because I was so annoyed with the sharp turns and the change in momentum they caused.  Since I had seen my 10 mile split, I knew that I was going to break 1:15 by a fair amount and stopped caring as much to kick it in and hurt the most.  And so you'll see that basically I ran a completely even race, with most of my 5k splits ranging from 17:34-17:38 at the slowest.  In the final straightaway to the finish, I broke into a smile again because damnit was I going to look happy as I crossed that finish line.  

After I crossed the finish line, it was somewhat anti-climatic.  I didn't know anyone in the chute and I didn't have anyone there to cheer me in.  And then I saw Billy, Alice's dad, who had convinced a group of fans next to him to cheer me in to the finish line while he took a sweet video of my final strides.  After I gave him a quick hug of thanks, I scanned the chute to find any women I may know.  When I didn't, I grabbed my bag and fished out my phone with frozen hands and called my coach.  Terry was the first person I wanted to talk to.  Not my husband, not my parents, but my coach.  I couldn't have done this without his guidance (and also probably not without Laurie's help on all my workouts).  We had a quick chat before I met Alex to cool down back to the hotel.  

As I settled into my warm hotel room, I thought about how drastically different this race experience was than the previous two here had been.  In fact, my average time at this race from the past two years had been 1:19:04 (1:17:50 in '12 and 1:20:19 in '13). Both of those years, I never noticed the downhill miles and I only noticed the seemingly uphill miles or the sharp turns. This year it felt like a whole new race course.  I saw downhills that I didn't even know existed before.  I charged up a hill that I previously had thought was a mountain.  It's all about attitude, I swear!

I spent the rest of the morning tracking my marathon friends - Michelle, Eric and Alice - before heading down to the 25 mile marker to give them some final cheers of encouragement. This weekend was a great way to spend an intimate weekend with some close friends before making the final move to Durham.  At the very least, I know that I'll always have people to call upon for a quick getaway weekend for a fun race trip.  And for that, I'm grateful!

Below are my raw notes that I wrote after the race on my iPad so I wouldn't forget.  For those that may care (but mainly for my own record):
Mile 1 (5:36) - snuck in behind a solid pack of women. 
Mile 2 (5:45) - tried to count how many women were ahead of me and in my pack. By my own estimations, I was in 15th or higher.  I couldn't help but notice the small headwind. It was annoying. Tried to tuck into a girl in front of me. 
Mile 3 (5:36) - another fast mile but coach terry had told me miles 1,3 and 6 were fast
Mile 4 (5:46) - the pack of girls had tucked in behind me or fallen off. A man pulled along side to help me do the work and I asked him what he was aiming for. He said mid -:15. I said me too. He said we are ahead. I reassured him that miles 1 and 3 are fast so it was okay. I never saw him again.  
Mile 5 (5;47) - intense stomach / ab cramp, similar to one I got in a workout toe weeks ago.  At this point all the ladies from the pack had fallen back so some guys passed by me and I tucked in with them so I wouldn't lose my chance of a pr because of a stomach cramp. No matter what I was going to make my mind believe it wasn't there. 
Mile 6 (5:29) - 10k 34:10 obviously the stomach cramp went away and I was rolling down the hill with the guys. I tucked in behind them with another flanked by my side. It was fun.  One of the guys asked when we were going to catch the people ahed of us and I said soon.  He said we are maintaining pace. I said they will come back to us
Mile 7 (5:40) - started passing more women here. Women who I've looked up to and thing I could never beat. 
Mile 8 (5:38) - passed two more girls and encouraged them to come with me 
Mile 9-10 (11:24) - lemon drop hill was mile 9 and I didn't even notice the split. I didn't even feel bad yet. A man barreled past me and I told myself that didn't mean I was slowing down.  At mile 10, I finally paid attention to my cumulative time and saw 56:46 and got a huge tingling sensation all across my body and my face erupted into a ginormous smile because I just KNEW it was going to happen today and that no matter what I was going to break 1:15.  I had just broken my 10 miler PR en route to a half marathon by almost two minutes. I also still wasn't hurting yet and I was finally noticing that this course can be fast. All the downhills seemed to be placed there just for me.  Such a contrast to the prior years where my average time was 1:19. The course didn't seem fast then but not suddenly it did. 
Mile 11 - 5:39 still rolling with some guys. Not many had passed me and I just tucked in.  A man who sounded like a monster pulled alongside me and annoyed the crap out of me with his outrageous breathing noises. 
Mile 12 - 539 at 11.5 I started to hurt but not bad enough that I was going to slow down. 

Mile 31.1 - 6:19 in the last moments of the race I stopped caring about trying to kick because I knew that I was going to be sub 1:14:30 so I didn't kick as hard as I should have. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

(Taper) Week in Review

58 Miles
6 Runs
1 Day off
0 Doubles
2 Workouts

This week can best be summed up with a countdown:

  • 6 Days until Grandma's Half Marathon
  • 12 Days until the movers come
  • 12 Days until my Accounting pre-homework is due
So basically all I've been doing is working, running, packing, and studying.  It's been good to keep busy before the race!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

MLR with 4M Progression

11-13 miles with 4-5 miles at 630m 620, 610, 600 and optional 5th mile at 550 or faster

7.4 mile warmup
4 miles in 24:19 via 6:21, 6:13, 5:56, 5:49
2.1 mile cool down for 13.5 miles total

Just seven days until Grandma's and the hard work is done. One final tempo was checked off the list today and so now all I need to do is get to the starting line! This morning, we had a large group from the Dowd for this one and it was nice to just put in some miles without even thinking about it.  Fortunately, the new guy from Illinois showed up and even though I can't remember if his name is Ryan or Brian, he still worked out with me.  I didn't even have to convince him!   There really isn't much else to report except that the quicker miles didn't even feel that hard.  Fitness is moving in the right direction.